Farmers in Argentina spent the four months protesting government policy, and began 2009 with a highway blockade in Santa Fe province to draw awareness to a government plan to provide cheaper loans to growers, reports Bloomberg.com. Last year’s protests convinced the country’s Congress to turn down an export-tax increase. Agrarian Federation President Eduardo Buzzi said the plan does not go far enough to help farmers whose profits were hurt by drought, falling grain prices, and policies restricting exports. The recent drought has been called the worst in four decades, ruining up to 50% of crops.
The proposal “is not what farmers need,” Buzzi said. “It’s good that the government says it will help cut suppliers prices, but it doesn’t say how.” Growers are asking the government to cut levies on agricultural goods.
Argentina was the world’s fifth-largest wheat exporter in 2007-2008 crop year and is the third-largest soybean producer behind the US and Brazil, according to the US Department of Agriculture.